Planning to be proud of

A letter is published in today’s Times:


The Government’s proposals to reform the planning system will shortly be finalised. The Cabinet is reported to have debated the plans, and speculation as to the outcome is growing.

It is dispiriting that, after so much discussion, the issue still seems to be defined largely by a sterile ‘environment vs growth’ debate. As our organisations have argued throughout the process, the two are not in conflict. Good planning is essential for ensuring sustainable economic prosperity, at the same time as it encourages urban renewal and protects the countryside.

The current planning system on the whole does not stand in the way of development. 80-90 per cent of planning applications are granted permission. But reform is certainly needed to minimise the costs of planning and also to enhance the longer-term benefits it provides.

Ministers have a chance now to ensure that the final policy is one that the nation can be proud of, rather than the starting gun for years of dispute and legal wrangling that will ultimately impose even more burdens on businesses. The yardsticks of success will be: a strong definition of sustainable development that gives equal weight to economic, environmental and social objectives; a presumption in favour of sustainable development that does not make it more difficult to refuse environmentally damaging developments; continued protection for designated areas, landscapes and heritage assets alongside explicit recognition of the value of the countryside as a whole; and a clear priority given to new development on previously developed (brownfield) sites where these are not otherwise of value to wildlife.

Peter Waine, Chair, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Paula Ridley, Chair, Civic Voice

Loyd Grossman, Chair, The Heritage Alliance

Sir Simon Jenkins, Chair, National Trust

Ian Darling FRICS, Chair, RSPB

Paul Wickham, Chair, The Wildlife Trusts


5 thoughts on “Planning to be proud of

  1. I can’t think of anything more to say, when so many eloquent and distinguished people have pleaded with this government to think carefully about the future of our “green and blessed land”.

    Let’s pray that the Lords do not bend to short-term expediency.

  2. We’re fighting two large scale developments of 650 houses on greenfield sites in Hartford, Cheshire, which would dratically alter our village forever. There are over 422 hectares of brownfield sites with no development plans locally!

    Over 2,500 locals (from a population of 4,000) have officially opposed the plans individually to Cheshire West & Chester Council

  3. Once again the government is not listening to the electorate. The protection of our countryside must be given priority. In every town, city and even some villages there are some unused areas of land left as waste ground which could easily be made available for small projects so I can only presume that the larger the land plots the greater the profit to both builders and land owners. I hope that an immoral attitude such as this is not at the root of the matter but perhaps , in the (likely) event of the government winning we need to be able to inspect details of all financial transactions.

  4. Fact is stranger than fiction. Has anyone read John Mortimer’s “Paradise Postponed/ Titmuss Regained”? A good many people need to be ashamed of their aspirations and actions.

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